Barnyard Betty's Rescue

The internet is freaking out about this terrifyingly large huntsman spider

Meet Charlotte.

FIONA MACDONALD
4 NOV 2016
 

A gargantuan huntsman spider has gone viral this week, looking like it crawled straight out of your nightmares.

The huntsman, named Charlotte, was rescued last year by an Australian animal shelter, and is now "living in peace" on their farm. She hasn't been measured, but based on the photos (and the amount of people hyperventilating on the internet), she might be one of the largest huntsmen ever found in Australia.

 

The images were uploaded to the Facebook page of Queensland animal rescue centre, Barnyard Betty's Rescue, back in October 2015. But they were picked up again this week, and have since been shared thousands of times, with people freaking out over how large the spider looks.

Huntsmen are one of the most common types of spider found in Australian homes, and they get their name from the fact that they don't build webs - instead, they quite literally hunt down their prey, which is usually insects such as crickets or cockroaches.

The name is given to more than a thousand separate species of spiders belonging to the family Sparassidae, found all across Australia, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Americas.

But although huntsmen are usually pretty big - it's not uncommon to see huntsman with a leg span of around 15 centimetres (6 inches) hanging out in your kitchen if you live in Australia - images of Charlotte suggest she's a whole lot bigger.

"Yes she is very real and very large and not Photoshopped!!" Barnyard Betty's Rescue wrote on their page.

 

The organisation explains that they released the spider onto their farm last year after rescuing her from a neighbour's home, and hasn't seen her since to take any more photos or videos. 

"She was a beautiful, calm spider, not aggressive in any way and like most spiders, she just wanted to go about her business eating bugs and living in peace," they write. "She didn't or doesn't need to be killed! Poor spiders are so misunderstood!"

It's not been officially verified what species Charlotte is, or exactly how large she is - it's likely the perspective of the images make her appear bigger than she really is - but she easily covers half a broom head.

12088072 721652814636499 5516293549278388279 nBarnyard Betty's Rescue

Although that's big for an Australian huntsman, it's probably not enough to make her the biggest huntsman ever, though. 

In 2001, a team of German researchers discovered the giant huntsman spider (Heteropoda maxima) in a cave in Laos, which had a leg span of around 30 centimetres (12 inches) - roughly the size of a dinner plate - making it the largest spider by leg span on record.

Thankfully, few people have ever seen a giant huntsman spider - they live in only a small area of Laos. But they'd most likely make Charlotte look petite by comparison.

The good news is, despite how scary huntsmen look, they're not considered venomous or dangerous to most humans, although their bite can be quite painful.

Hopefully, all the attention Charlotte is getting will raise awareness of the fact that spiders are an important part of the ecosystem, and worth protecting.

"My apologies to all the traumatised," Barnyard Betty's Rescue writes. "Charlotte would like you to look past your phobia and see her for the amazing creature she is."

If you can do that, then you might like to also wrap your head around this huntsman spider filmed last month dragging a mouse vertically up a fridge to its death.

Respect.

More From ScienceAlert

Earth's days are getting 2 milliseconds longer every 100 years

But there still aren't enough hours in the day.

10 hours ago
Google says it will be running solely on renewable energy by 2017

Your web search is about to get carbon-neutral.

8 hours ago